In December 2021 following President Joe Biden’s victory, Republican lawmakers in Georgia allegedly used gerrymandering tactics to dilute Black voting power in the state. Although the Census revealed that Georgia had become more diverse, the voting maps would discriminated against Black voters in the state.
According to the lawsuit, Republican-controlled Legislature diluted Black voting power in Georgia by choosing to “‘pack’ some Black voters in the Atlanta metropolitan area and ‘crack’ other Black voters in rural-reaching, predominantly white districts.”
U.S. District Judge Steve Jones is currently hearing the case that would order Georgia’s Republican-controlled General Assembly to redraw districts to comply with the law. In turn, Democrats could gain a seat in the U.S. House and several seats in Georgia’s Legislature
ACLU’s Executive Director Andrea Young recently spoke with ADW about the lawsuit and its impact.
Talk about the Georgia redistricting trial and why the lawsuit was important for voters?
We fill out a Census every 10 years. And based on those numbers, the Georgia Legislature redraws the district lines for congressional and State House and Senate districts. That happened in Georgia after the 2020 Census. After that Census, the Black population grew by nearly half a million people. And the white population actually went down. But when the Legislature drew the new lines, they didn’t create any new districts where Black people could elect the legislator of their choice. And, in fact, they actually drew Congressional districts so that Lucy McBath, who is an African American woman representing the sixth district, was drawn out of her district in North Atlanta. So we along with other organizations filed a lawsuit challenging these districts under the Voting Rights Act. Recently, the Supreme Court had a ruling that Alabama actually does something similar.
So can you talk about how the Supreme Court ruling will impact this current trial?
The situation in Georgia is actually worse than the situation in Alabama. Alabama population had actually been stable. Under the Voting Rights Act, section two, it did require Alabama to provide adequate representation for its African American citizens that it has failed to do so. There’s only one district out of seven in Alabama where African Americans can elect the candidate of their choice. The Supreme Court said there should be at least two and so that is really important precedent for our situation. We had testimony that states Georgia should have probably eight more districts that African Americans could elect the candidate of their choice.
Can you talk about some of those districts?
What happened in Alabama is the court directed the Alabama State Legislature to draw a new map, they basically refused to do it. And so now there’s going to be a special magistrate. We don’t know what maps will be adopted in Georgia. But presumably a lot of it is around the greater metropolitan Atlanta area. The western suburbs of Atlanta. There’s a situation in Athens where instead of having a legislative district, they divide Clark County within three different districts…In the state legislature, you can see that by some of the measures that passed that don’t represent what the majority of Georgians want such as classroom censorship, making it difficult for them to even change Black history in our classrooms.
The the anti-choice legislation when most voters in Georgia actually agree with pro-choice legislation. Also, the refusal to expand Medicaid, even though most Georgians would certainly support Medicaid expansions. And Georgia taxpayers are actually paying for Medicaid expansion in other states. There are a number of ways in which the legislature is simply not representative of the policy choices that the majority of Georgians believe are important.